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Snow at 5PM

Snow at 5PM


The rescue of a literary manuscript results in a war of words over the interpretation of 107 haikus about New York’s Central Park. In the battle of commentaries, what is at stake is nothing less than the meaning of America in an imaginary but highly plausible future. Reenvisioning Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire for a technologized age, Snow at 5 PM discovers revolutionary uses, and abuses, for literature and history.

SKU: 978-0-9994514-1-0
  • About the Author

    Jee Leong Koh is the author of Steep Tea, named a Best Book of the Year by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. He has published four other books of poems, a hybrid work of fiction, a volume of essays, and a collection of zuihitsu, The Pillow Book, which was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize. His second Carcanet book Inspector Inspector is forthcoming in August 2022.

  • Awards

    Winner of the Singapore Literature Prize, 2022.

    Judges' Comments

    Jee Leong Koh’s Snow at 5 P.M. may be Singapore's first global novel. It is multi-genre, with 107 haiku introducing many of the prose passages. Set chiefly in contemporary Manhattan, with Central Park as the jewel in the setting, the fiction flashes off and on, like red warning signals, to a futuristic climate-changed Singapore Island and planet. The novel is multi-civilisational, the protagonist-narrator being a diasporic Singaporean living in New York City, in quest of his speculative protagonist, a Japanese poet immigrant to the same American territory.

    The novel is a mash-up of sub-genres. It is a mystery story, puzzling a missing poet known only through the half-burnt sheaves of haiku left in the apartment the narrator has moved into. The fiction is thickened, like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick’s whaling information, with empirical botanical knowledge that offers a different discursive dimension to the haiku images of flora and fauna. Asian American scholarship and displays of literary erudition are scored with erotic gay intimacies. Multitudinous digressive language plays, sub-characters’ lineages and histories, suggest unities in the tradition of Joycean epic works. Snow at 5 p.m.'s hybrid literary traditions, genres and sub-genres, generating complex threads, each digressing and spinning other threads, achieve a tour de force, a globalized Singapore imaginary that dazzles.

  • Reviews and Blurbs

    “Snow at 5 PM is the first instantiation of a new genre, that of tranxfiction, whose characteristic may be summarized thus: transnational, translational, transgender, and transgressive. The ‘x’ in the name of the genre encapsulates not only the illicit crossing of boundaries, but also the promiscuous multiplication of signifiers. Such works explode the conventional unities of subjectivity, text, and polis. They are ‘oscillating guns’ set from the start to go off.”

    —Angel Jefferson, Theorizing the Sign of the Transgender.


    “Commentary is an ancient art practiced in many cultures around the world. In this novel work, it is revived and reexamined as a means of understanding modernity and ourselves. What Koh reveals is that we comment as naturally as we breathe, tht we exist as artfully as we speak.”

    —Rabbi Saul Barenboim, The Isaac M. Wise Temple.


    “Koh’s haiku are some of the finest in the English language that I have ever read. The prose commentaries are fun, but the haiku are fantastic.”

    —De-Jing Dao, The Monkey Sage and Other Poems

  • Technical Specifications

    ISBN: 978-0-9994514-1-0

    Publisher: Bench Press

    Title: Snow at 5PM

    Author: Koh Jee Leong

    Format: Paperback

    Year published: 2020

    Trim size: 140 mmW x 216 mmH

    Page count: 402

    Price: SGD 24.00

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